A trans woman who was caught robbing student flats has escaped jail after a judge decided her “unusual case” deserved sympathy.

Thea Cox, 54, received a suspended 12-week sentence last year for carrying out four burglaries with an offensive weapon.

This summer, she returned to the flats she had burgled to carry out two more raids, an offence that would usually send her straight to prison for breaching her suspended sentence.

However, Recorder Kevin Hann, sitting at Exeter Crown Court, opted to prolong her suspended sentence for a further two years, saying she had been trying hard to turn her life around.

According to the Express & Echo, he said: “This is such an unusual case – you’ve had a rotten life fighting the demons within yourself and have been able to stay out of trouble for many years until recently.

“It seems to me you have reached something of a turning point. A lot of people are trying hard to keep you on the straight and narrow.”

Cox, who transitioned 26 years ago, committed the burglaries while suffering from severe anxiety, the court was told.

Outside court, she said she had been subjected to “a remarkable amount of abuse” over the years.